Blog Post: The Complexity of Demolition

During 40 years razing structures, DDS has learnt that every demolition project is met with a variety of challenges. We are humble enough to accept the common misconception that demolition is easy and straightforward – however, the simple truth is this:

To do it safely and correctly requires the utmost technical assessment – regardless of the structure.

Whether the structure is a seemingly simple house or a complex 12 storey tower block, each project requires equal thought, expertise and understanding of the existing and potential challenges.

Complacency is not an option.

For instance, the complexity increases when executing a demolition project within a live environment.

One of our current projects is the perfect example: The demolition of 2 no Multi Storey Car Parks.

Sounds straightforward enough so far?

The complexity arose with 2 key factors –

  1. The project takes place within a busy, live Port.
  2. Both multi storey car parks are situated directly atop of existing and live environments including offices, passenger terminals and border force search facilities.

Firstly, the client required clear reassurance and confidence that our commitment to health and safety, environmental impact and keeping noise and disruption to a minimum was paramount.

Secondly – and we can’t reiterate this enough, the Port is a major entry point to Great Britain, particularly for heavy goods vehicles.

So therein lies the million dollar question – just how did we propose to demolish two multi storey car parks, both of which are sited above the aforementioned fully operational environments, with multiple lanes of traffic, pedestrian and cycle routes flowing either side, without causing disruption?!

Essentially, it has been no mean feat. It has required meticulous planning, reliance on the expertise of our technical and management team, confidence in ourselves and crucially gaining the trust and confidence from the client.

Due to the proximity of live areas the safety of the site was paramount and the following key factors have been addressed:

  • The structure is sealed within a fully monarflexed scaffold system incorporating various crash / protection decks to prevent any debris falling onto the live areas.
  • Pedestrian traffic exclusion zones have been created to establish a clear and safe route through to the Port buildings. This is used by the staff on site and general public.
  • A traffic management plan was agreed in advance of the project commencement to ensure a consistent and uninterrupted flow of traffic is maintained throughout the project.
  • Traffic conditions are monitored throughout the project with deliveries and waste away being controlled accordingly.
  • Noise, Dust and vibration monitoring stations (Environmental monitoring stations) situated at various locations around the Port as agreed with the client.
  • Debris and dust from the demolition is contained within our working areas – measures have been put into place to ensure that dust is kept to a minimum.

We often find that it helps to put yourselves in the clients’ shoes when tendering “high risk” demolition projects such as this example. The pressure on the client to balance the technical capability of their preferred contractor versus a competitive cost is immense.

A contractor should listen and understand the clients’ concerns and requirements. Subsequently, we should inspire confidence that the project is not only thoroughly planned but also achievable in technical ability, programme and budget – cost justification will always remain high on the clients scoring process.

There are other factors that assist the client when choosing their demolition contractor. Do they hold the following:

Are they a member of the NFDC? Have they obtained quality management accreditations? Have they appointed experienced and skilled staff? Have they encouraged on-going training to their staff and work force?

DDS Demolition champion all of the above.

We can modestly admit that the technical challenges have been thought-provoking with this project.

However, ultimately it has illustrated (even after 40 years) that safety and innovation are ever-evolving if you have the humility and experience to learn.